Black Power


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Introduction

If the nonviolence of the Southern Freedom/Civil Rights Movement frightened mainstream people in the U.S., the Black Power movement confronted institutional racism with a youthful boldness and fearlessness unseen since enslaved Africans took up arms in the Civil War.


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PRIMARY DOCUMENT

How the Black Panther Party was Organized
By John Hulett

Excerpts from a speech by John Hulett about how the Lowndes County Freedom Organization was organized and why they chose a black panther as their symbol. The speech was given in Los Angeles on May 22, 1966 at a meeting sponsored by a group of anti-Vietnam War committees.


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READING

Black Nationalism and Black Pride: The Ballot or the Bullet
By Malcolm X

An excerpt from a speech given in Cleveland in April 1964. At this period of his life after Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) had broken with Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, made a pilgrimmage to Mecca, and begun to develop his own movement, the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He was assassinated on February 21, 1965.


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READING

Dear Mr. Ellison
By Jarvis Q. deBerry

Poetry.


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READING

Why We Should Teach About the FBI’s War on the Civil Rights Movement
By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

Though COINTELPRO offers teachers a trove of opportunities to illustrate key concepts, including the rule of law, civil liberties, social protest, and due process, it is completely absent from most mainstream textbooks.


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READING

Fists of Freedom
By Dave Zirin

The media—and school curricula—fail to address the context that produced Smith and Carlos’ famous gesture of resistance at the 1968 Olympics: It was the product of what was called “The Revolt of the Black Athlete.”


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READING

Elegy for Peter Norman
By Josh Healey

Poetry.


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READING

SOS—Calling All Black People: Introduction to the Black Arts Movement
By John H. Bracey Jr., Sonia Sanchez, And James Smethurst

An introduction to the Black Arts Movement, arguably the most influential U.S. arts movement ever. The term "Black Arts Movement" (BAM) was coined by Larry Neal for the outpouring of politically engaged African American art from the mid-196os to the late 1970s, which he described as the "sister of the Black Power concept.”


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PRIMARY DOCUMENT

What We Want
By Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael)

Separatism−the determination of a particular group of people to resist assimilating to the majority culture−has a long history in the United States. This excerpt from “What we Want” offers an articulate rationale for the notion of an independent Black community.


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LESSON

Voices of Black Liberation
By Larry Miller

Students a read speech or popular writing by a leader of the Black liberation movement, write and give their own speech, and have a debate arguing from the perspective of that person.


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LESSON

'What We Want, What We Believe': Teaching with the Black Panthers' Ten Point Program
By Wayne Au

Students read the Black Panther Party's 1972 Ten Point Program to understand the conditions the Panthers were attempting to identify and deal with, then analyze their world today and write their own Ten Point Program for social issues they would like to address.


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LESSON

Asian American Civil Rights Activism: Embracing Identity from the Past and Building Coalitions with the Black Power Movement
By Freda Lin and Alana D. Murray


Additional Resources

Recommended books, films, and more for further learning about black power.


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Reading

"Felton X" (Bill Russell)
By Josh Ozersky

William (Bill) Felton Russell, a basketball star for the Boston Celtics in the 1960s, was nicknamed “Felton X” because he wouldn’t denounce the Nation of Islam. Most athletes and entertainers are afraid to damage their careers by speaking out against injustice, but still a brave few continue today.


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Reading

From Freedom to Liberation: Politics and Pedagogy in Movement Schools
By Daniel Perlstein

What distinguishes the Movement schools from most of public education is not, in the final analysis, the techniques they employed. Rather, at issue is whether curriculum and pedagogy would perpetuate racism and other forms of social inequality or would foster change. There is, then, no Movement approach to education without rebuilding the Movement.